WordPress 6.5 “Regina”: Performance Updates, New Font Library Feature, and More

Last updated on Apr 3rd, 2024 | 5 min

WordPress 6.5 “Regina” is now out!

Named after the award-winning artist and storied jazz educator Regina Carter, 6.5 is the first big update of 2024, and we won’t exaggerate by saying it's a pretty exciting one. 

If we had to use a single sentence to describe WordPress 6.5, it would be:

“This latest version of WordPress puts more power into the details.”

“Regina” offers new and improved ways to fine-tune and enhance your site-building experience and impressive performance gains, and it marks the introduction of breakthrough developer tools. 

Let’s check the most significant highlights.

Hundreds of Performance Updates

To be exact—110+ performance updates have been merged into the core.

In the previous two versions—6.4 and 6.3—we’ve seen some impressive new features and web performance improvements being introduced:

  • Improved LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) and TTFB (Time to First Byte) scores for block themes
  • Support for fetchpriority="high"
  • Introduction of script loading strategies

Building upon the massive efforts of the Core Performance team, WordPress 6.5 introduces AVIF support

AVIF is a next-gen image format that delivers substantial enhancements in image quality and compression compared to “traditional” formats such as JPEG, PNG, and even WebP. AVIF images can achieve up to a 50% reduction in file size compared to JPEGs without sacrificing image quality. 

Avif vs Jpeg

Being significantly smaller than their JPEG equivalents, AVIF images inevitably lead to faster page load times and less bandwidth transmission.

Furthermore, AVIF images still get all of the benefits of responsive images, Fetch Priority, and lazy loading.

The format is supported in all major browsers, so you can start using them today.

AVIF browser support

Source: caniuse.com

Beyond that, most of the performance improvements introduced in “Regina” are related to an impressive increase in speed and efficiency across the Post Editor and Site Editor. 

In fact, the 6.5 release squad claims that:

WordPress 6.5 performance improvements

Simply astonishing improvements! 

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Introducing The Font Library

The Font Library finally makes its official debut with the WordPress 6.5 release.

It allows users to effortlessly install, remove, and activate local and Google Fonts across their sites for any Block theme.

WordPress 6.5 Font Library

Source: WordPress

You can manage the font library by opening the Site Editor (found under Appearance » Editor) and then moving to the 'Styles' panel. Once there, select 'Typography' to view the fonts currently included with your WordPress theme.

The great thing about the Font Library is that you no longer need to install a typography plugin just to use a custom font on your site.

Enhanced Block Editor

Each WordPress release introduces a myriad of new features to the Block editor.

Obviously, 6.5 is no different, and you may want to take note of some of those improvements, as they can save you a lot of time.

Smoother drag-and-drop

Experience the change as you rearrange items, aided by visual indicators such as moved items in List View or the smooth dragging capability that allows you to effortlessly position them anywhere in your workspace, from start to finish.

Improved Link Controls

The insert link popup (link control) has significant changes in WordPress 6.5 to make it more user-friendly.

First, it now highlights your blog and front pages with different icons.

Link Control in WordPress 6.5

Source: WP Beginner

Secondly, once you have inserted a link, clicking on it will show you a better context menu, similar to the Google Docs settings:

Link Actions in WordPress 6.5

Source: WP Beginner

Last but not least, the link control panel now allows you to set a link as “nofollow”:

Make links nofollow

Source: WP Beginner

New Drop Shadow Tools

WordPress 6.5 adds the drop shadow effect to the Image, Column(s), and Buttons blocks. You can now easily:

  • Control the size, repeat, and focal point options for background images in Group blocks so you can explore subtle or splashy ways to add visual interest to layouts. 
  • Set aspect ratios for Cover block images and easily add color overlays that automatically source color from your chosen image. 
  • Add box shadow support to more block types to create layouts with visual depth, or throw a little personality into your design.

Smart Overlay for the Cover Block

In WordPress 6.5, the Cover block has been upgraded with a nifty feature – it automatically selects an overlay cover that complements the image or color you apply to the block.

Furthermore, you can adjust the overlay's opacity to suit your design needs using a simple slider:

Cover Block Overlay in WordPress 6.5

Source: WP Beginner

To see the complete list of improvements introduced in 6.5, check the official documentation

New Developer Tools

Similar to the Block editor, a new WordPress version always adds a few developer-specific features and enhancements. 

Here are some of the most interesting ones:

Plugin Dependencies

Considering that many plugins act purely as extensions of others, the new Plugin Dependencies feature aims to make the process of installing and activating add-ons (dependents) and the plugins they rely on (dependencies) consistent and easy.

Plugin developers now have the ability to include a "Requires Plugins" header in their plugin information, listing necessary plugin slugs separated by commas. This addition provides users with direct links to install and activate these required plugins first.

Interactivity API

The Interactivity API offers developers a unified method to incorporate interactive elements into the front end of their blocks.

This framework is designed to simplify developers' process of building engaging and dynamic user interfaces. It supports a range of functionalities, from basic elements like counters and pop-up windows to advanced features such as instant page transitions, live search, shopping carts, or checkout processes.

Moreover, blocks can exchange data, actions, and callbacks among themselves, streamlining the interaction between different blocks and reducing the likelihood of errors. 

Block Bindings API

The new Block Bindings API now enables developers to link core blocks to various data sources without the necessity of crafting custom block code. 

This functionality allows for the binding of elements such as a Paragraph block to draw information from a post's metadata or a Heading block to pull data from a plugin's PHP algorithms  – all without the need to engage with React, navigate block registration complexities, or tackle the specifics involved in creating custom blocks from the ground up for every new data source you wish to access.

Wrap Up

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the improvements introduced in the latest WordPress update.

There are tons of other new features included in the announcement blog article like:

  • Improved revisions
  • New Data views
  • Refreshed Preferences Panel
  • Site Editor Changes
  • And more

All of these are perfect reasons to download WordPress 6.5.

Don’t forget to back up your website beforehand, and as always – if you want to pass your Core Web Vitals and boost your site’s performance, install NitroPack. 

Get NitroPack for free →

Niko Kaleev
Web Performance Geek

Niko has 5+ years of experience turning those “it’s too technical for me” topics into “I can’t believe I get it” content pieces. He specializes in dissecting nuanced topics like Core Web Vitals, web performance metrics, and site speed optimization techniques. When he’s taking a breather from researching his next content piece, you’ll find him deep into the latest performance news.